It is time for another album ranking and this time around we are exploring Diamond Dave himself, David Lee Roth. We will not be doing any Van Halen albums that will come later, we are focusing strictly on the David Lee Roth solo catalog. I am not even going to cover his debut E.P. ‘Crazy From the Heat’ as that is only 4 songs and only covers…boo hiss!
David had a very successful career after leaving Van Halen and then that career faded away. But he came out of the gate a little limp with ‘Crazy From the Heat’ although the album sold well and the video was played a lot for ‘California Girls’, but it was so campy and awful. Then his debut came out and thanks to Steve Vai, David Lee Roth did a better Van Halen album than Van Halen did with Sammy on 5150. That didn’t last forever and Dave kind of fell to the wayside, but so did Van Halen when Sammy left. But that is a story for another time.
Nowadays, He is still as crazy as ever and his mouth still runs amok which is just classic Dave. He has recently toured with Kiss on their Farewell Tour so he has never really fallen far from the spotlight. He’s always there on the cusp waiting for another 15 minutes. So I will give him that as we celebrate the man, the myth, the mouth..David Lee Roth
As usual, we will start with the worst and work are way to the best and save the best for last. I hope you enjoy.
THE WORST – ‘DIAMOND DAVE’ (2003):
David’s last solo album to date, saw Dave go back to doing mostly covers and turning himself in to almost a Vegas Act. It doesn’t mean I hate this album, far from it. It is really just my least favorite. I do like the strong opening track “You Got the Blues, Not Me” which showed a lot of promise for the album. David only wrote two songs on the album and one some punk named John Lowery…you might know him as John 5 who is totally awesome and we will get to more of him on another album.
The album doesn’t rock out, it has a more blues feel to it and it has some classic Dave moments with his vocals. It is a very laid back album and depending on your mood, this might make a great album to have playing in the background as there is a smoothness to it that is nice. Don’t expect a lot of heavy guitars as this isn’t one of those albums. Check out some songs such as “Shoo Bop” and “Thug Pop”.
#5 – ‘YOUR FILTHY LITTLE MOUTH’ (1994):
This might be the last album most people will remember before he faded away in to oblivion (not really). It was produced by Nile Rodgers and it had a lot of the Roth rock, but the problem was this was 1994 and the world had moved on to Grunge. And you throw in a Travis Tritt duet with “Cheatin’ Heart Cafe” and the music world wasn’t listening.
Does that mean this is bad…not the slightest. The opening track “She’s the Machine” and “Big Train” give you exactly what a DLR fan wants. They both rock out. There are a couple blues and slick tracks with one being “Experience” that is worth a listen and so is “Night Life” which is very Vegas and lounge singer-like, but is great. This one is a little all over the place, but so is Dave.
#4 – ‘A Little Ain’t Enough’ (1991):
By the third album, the album sales started to dip and it wasn’t helped by the first single. ‘A Little Ain’t Enough’ was full of controversy with the video below as it was full of scantily clad women, and little people dressed in Afro wigs and blackface (bad move Dave). But the other problem was it was 1991 and Grunge was starting to take over and Dave was still doing…well…Dave.
The title song is fantastic, but the best tracks are “Sensible Shoes”, “Shoot It” and “Hammerhead Shark”. And you could also listen to “It’s Showtime” and “Baby’s On Fire” and see it is full of solid tracks. The album did suffer from some filler, but I think there is more to like than not which is why it isn’t at the bottom.
#3 – ‘DLR BAND’ (1998):
In 1998, this album completely passed me by. I don’t think I heard it until about a year ago and good luck finding it anywhere as I believe it is out of print. And it ain’t on the streaming services that I can find. Don’t ask me how I got it. This is Dave at his best. This is more of a Band-Feel album and not a solo album and that is thanks to the guitar work on this thing by John 5. John 5 co-wrote and played on 1/2 the tracks and then there is Terry Kilgore who was on most of the rest. These two helped Dave get back to a little punch and might be the closest thing to a Van Halen album he has done in years.
“Slam Dunk” is a hell of an opener that really gets things started and “Wa Wa Zat” is some of the best guitar work on any of the songs. I really love the song “Lose the Dress (Keep the Shoes)”, the title alone is a winner. And with “Counter-blast” and “Blacklight”, this is an album you need to find and buy as you won’t be disappointed. I almost went higher with this one, but I like the next two just a little more.
#2 – ‘Skyscraper’ (1988):
With “Skyscraper”, Dave changed it up slightly from his debut which was a little less guitar driven and more keyboard which is strange considering the producer of this album was the great guitarist Steve Vai (Dave produced it as well). The album was pretty eclectic and even felt a little psychedelic at times (“Damn Good”). I think I liked the variety a lot.
“Just Like Paradise” is really classic sounding Dave so that is always welcome. I really dug the songs “Skyscraper”, “Hot Dog And A Shake” and “Knucklebones”. The strangest and dumbest song on the album “Stand Up” is sadly extremely catchy and drills into your brain and swims around. I like the bass on it by some unnamed bass player and Vai’s guitar sound is everywhere on it. Overall, it is valiant effort and doesn’t suffer for me from that Sophomore slump.
#1 – ‘Eat ‘Em And Smile’ (1986):
Was there any doubt this album would be #1. No!! This is the album Van Halen needed to put out and since they wouldn’t do it, David Lee Roth did. My favorite part about it is Steve Vai as his playing is amazing and gives David that guitar genius he was used to singing with. It still had a little lounge lizard songs like “That’s Life”, “Tobacco Road” and “I’m Easy”, but I didn’t mind that. These were great fun songs and “Tobacco Road” was actually killer.
It was the songs like “Yankee Rose”, “Shyboy” and “Elephant Gun” that took this to another level. Blistering solos and Dave rocking out. And then there was “Ladies Night in Buffalo” which I felt was Dave being smooth and showing a different side of who he was and what he could sing. I don’t believe I ever skip on a song on this one and if there is any David Lee Roth album you are going to get…this should be it. It is Essential!!
And there you have it, The David Lee Roth studio albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same artist and that is all that matters really. And if as a result, you find something new, then my job is done!!!